Hampton Court Palace garden designer takes Longbridge as his inspiration
With the Chelsea Flower Show in full swing, Midlands regeneration group, St. Modwen, has revealed it is working with a national garden designer to create the first ever brownfield conceptual garden for display at another of the Royal Horticultural Society’s big events.
Designer Martyn Wilson, of Wilson Associates Garden Design, has taken his initial inspiration for the garden from St. Modwen’s approach to regeneration, which includes the rebirth of Longbridge.
Hints from the scheme will be featured in the garden, which is set to be unveiled at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which takes place July 4-9.
Featuring in the category of ‘gardens for a changing world’, the design highlights the critical role property developers have to create more public open space.
The garden also takes an abstract look at regeneration and demonstrates nature’s ability to succeed against the odds and rejuvenate an open space.
The theme is proving one of the current trends in horticulture.
A conceptual garden by designer James Basson, modelled on an abandoned Maltese quarry, has scooped best show garden at this year’s Chelsea show – despite criticisms over its somewhat brutalist theme.
Speaking about his own design, Mr Wilson said: “What interested me initially was the changing nature of urban landscapes, such as Longbridge, which are so often are in state of flux. There’s the process of demolition and reconstruction but between the two, before building work starts, you often find nature moves back in and a new, temporary landscape is created.
“At the same time, as part of the overall masterplaning of the area, it is the developer’s responsibility to ensure that this temporary landscape has a more permanent status and adds to the transforming environment by way of clever planting schemes or through the creation of green public open spaces.
“My garden will recreate that moment in time, in a sculpted form, with nods to the past and also the future. We should see these city spaces as opportunities and, whilst appreciating their gritty beauty, look forward to welcoming the communities that will replace them.”
Mark Allan, chief executive at St. Modwen said: “The transformation and regeneration of Longbridge not only goes a long way to answer the UK’s existing housing crisis but has also brought back 468 acres of brownfield land into the public sphere that was previously not accessible for the Longbridge community to use.
“Sponsoring the first ever brownfield garden at Hampton Court was a great opportunity for St. Modwen to showcase the need to create and open up previously disused spaces for future generations to enjoy.”
As part of the £1bn regeneration of Longbridge, St. Modwen has invested £2m in the three-acre Austin Park, the first public park to be built in South West Birmingham in the last five decades.
“This new open space forms the heart of the Longbridge Town Centre. We have planted 550 new trees, 20,000 plants and have uncovered 255 metres of the River Rea for the first time in nearly 100 years; we have cultivated the land so that it remains sustainable for people to enjoy for years to come,” added Mr Allan.
The conceptual garden
Show visitors will be greeted by a series of monolithic steel structures that reference the manufacturing industries of the Industrial Age. On closer inspection, the steel appears twisted and torn – a nod to the decline of these industries.
Through the rubble, the decay is being replaced by the processes of natural regeneration, and trees and vegetation are self-seeding. This natural transition provides opportunities for wildlife in the heart of urban areas.
The garden features urban art references on recycled hoardings and is softened by swathes of grasses, ferns, herbaceous perennials and self-seeding annuals.